Explore the elegant architecture and fascinating landmarks of Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-largest city, on this 9.5-hour, full-day cultural tour from San Juan. Join a guide for a look inside three of the city’s most important historic buildings, including the colorful Parque de Bombas (firehouse) bedecked in red and black stripes, the renowned art collection of the Ponce Museum and Serallès Castle, once the lavish home of a rum baron. The tour also includes round-trip transportation from select hotels in San Juan and a stop at a Ponce restaurant, where you can purchase lunch.
Ponce the Pearl City from San Juan
Go behind the facades and inside the history of the most famous buildings in Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-biggest town and site of some the country’s most beautiful architecture. This deep dive into the history of the city some have called “The Pearl of the South” is the perfect way to get a taste for its unique aesthetic character.
Start the day with a pickup between 8 and 9am from your hotel in San Juan, continuing on a 1.5 hour drive to Ponce, situated on the island’s southern coast. Upon your arrival in town, head with your guide to the Parque de Bombas, which translates as “park of the pumps,” a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places and covered by iconic red and black stripes. After starting its life as a firehouse in the late 1800s, the building today houses a museum of firefighting artifacts. For those that don’t want to look inside, or that finish their museum visit quickly, take a few moments to enjoy the shade and fountains at Plaza de Delicias, which sits just outside.
Move on to the Ponce Art Museum, home to a startling collection of fine European and Puerto Rican art. Get a quick intro to the museum from your guide. Then peruse the galleries, filled with masterworks by such notables as Peter Paul Reubens and Eugéne Delacroix, along with famous pieces like Frederic Leighton’s Flaming June and Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon.
Finish up with your final stop of the day at Serallès Castle (Castillo Serallès) a grandiose mansion built in Spanish Colonial revival style in 1930. The residence was once the home of the Serallès family, creators of Puerto Rico’s famous Don Q rum brand, and is now also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out the incredible interior with a docent, allowing you to explore this beautiful estate up close, before connecting with your guide to head to the lunch stop. Please note that entrance fees are at your own expense.
Head next to lunch. Although the chosen restaurant will vary based on the date of your tour, expect a mouth-watering selection of typical Puerto Rican fare. Purchase your meal at your own expense, if you wish, and then after lunch drive back to San Juan, arriving back at approximately 6:30pm.